The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
Chocolate is always a bit of a minefield with wine and I can’t honestly think of one that would have dealt with all the different textures and temperatures of what was a really stellar dessert: a sorbet, a granita a jelly and some dense crumbs of chocolate sponge. But the richly nutty, almost malty Wuyi Dark Rock tea which was served warm rather than hot was wonderfully refreshing, adding flavour without richness or sweetness of its own. It was apparently supplied by Teasmith in nearby Spitalfields market.
The menu offers an accompanying selection of ‘beverage’ rather than wine pairings which resulted in a beer - albeit a vinous Rodenbach Grand Cru - with the starter of beetroot, crisp apple and goats curd. (I actually thought it went better with a couple of the umami-rich ‘amuses’ which included a crostino of romesco [sauce], almonds, olives and dehydrated sherry and a soy milk jelly with smoked aubergine.
A main course of sole coated in roasted yeast with mustard gnocchi and a cauliflower purée was intriguingly matched with a light, lush 2007 Szepsy Furmint which added a contrasting note of gentle sweetness.
This is definitely a place to go to explore - drink as well as food - and to keep an open mind. Nuno Mendes is obviously as interested in what his team pours in your glass as what he puts on the plate - and that’s quite rare for a chef. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.